Tuesday, 31 May 2011

One lump or two...

Well, if you think a 3D printer is something you buy and just use, think again - they are definitely at the hobbyist stage.

That said, it is very rewarding having spent days working on this, and making it from the nuts and bolts, and then finally being able to print things. That is what hobbies are all about.

I probably have a few more days of tinkering before I get good at this. There is a lot of advice on the matter on the irc channels and wikis. In fact too much advice and all of it from people that found a specific thing worked for them in some specific but ill specified circumstances. However, helpful people with lots of good ideas and all over the world too it seems.

One aspect I did not expect is the number of "one last thing needed before it will work properly" that has happened this weekend. e.g. I got a hot plate, and just need a power supply that is good enough as the one I have cannot do the current. I get a power supply, and turns out "oh, you need some isulation under the hot plate else it will not get to temperature" so off to homebase. Now I have the "I use a small fan to blow over the freshly extruded plastic" (which competes with the hot place and insulation). There is a lot of "fine tuning" and "balance" needed.

I am also experimenting with finding other cold surfaces to print on that stick well enough to hold the ABS down, don't allow it to curl up as it contracts when it cools, does allow me to actually unstick it at the end, and is re-usable, and smooth enough of a surface so I don't have to file the result flat. I am also trying to get a good understanding of Z axis setting, and first layer printing. The first layer is the key - if that is printed cleanly and stuck down well, and stays put, then you have a pretty good chance of printing a whole thing.

So far I have printed a slightly distorted die, well a few dice in fact, all differently distorted. I am getting the hang of it slowly but each test wastes a good hour.

I'll write up more detail on some of the fine tuning when I am happy (may be some time).

I still have to dream up a proper "need" for it - something not actually completely contrived or just printed from thingiverse for the hell of it. Something that makes this "How the hell did I even manage without one" just like printers, scanners, cameras, shredders and the like.

Anyway, bank holiday over - back to real work for a bit.

7 comments:

  1. Hmmmm, I am sure that the most useful thing a reprap can print is the parts for another reprap. See pg 269.

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  2. Something I use with cooking is Teflon baking sheets. Think of a rubbery or plastic-like sheet of (or coated in) teflon that's safe to put in the oven at 240 degrees and even the stickiest foodstuff will peel right off.

    You can pick them up for a few quid each from nearly any supermarket these days.

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  3. The next project perhaps: http://www.reghardware.com/2011/06/01/3d_printer_prints_working_house_keys/

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  4. Print prototype enclosures for fancy-pants Firebricks.

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  5. Cool hobby!

    You've got this far: you may now drink your weak lemon drink!

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  6. Teflon is non-stick though. U need something to stick!
    But I'll try anything - trying PLA next instead of ABS

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